How to Grow Onions and Garlic

Someone came into the store the other day and said, "People actually plant onions?".

Yes, and you should too!  We have several varieties to choose from, and you'll find that both onions and garlic are easy to grow, and handy to tuck into the corners of your planting bed.

Onions and garlic need loose, loamy soil that is very fertile.  They are shallow rooted, so they do not compete well with weeds.  Provide adequate moisture during dry spells, or the onions will be small and hot.

Dry Onions (15 to 18 weeks to harvest)

At Pioneer, we have onion "sets" available.  Sets are immature bulbs from the previous year, and provide the easiest and most disease-free way to grow this indispensable ingredient.

Be sure to prepare your soil well before you plant, fertilizing the soil now will help the sets throughout the season.  (We suggest 3 lbs. of 10-10-10 for 100 square feet).   Go easy on fertilizer the rest of the summer, particularly nitrogen--this will cause lush, green top growth, but at the expense of the bulb.  

Plant onions 4-6 weeks before your last frost date (right now, for those of you in Zone 5), they like cool weather in the earliest part of their growth.  Plant the bulbs 1/2" deep, 4"-5" apart in rows 1 foot apart (planting closer will limit bulb size).  

Something to keep in mind--rounded bulbs will produce flattened onions, and elongated bulbs will produce round onions.

Remove and use any plants that begin to "bolt" or flower.  Harvest in August or September when the tops of the plants fall over.

It's best to pull the plants in the morning, them let them dry thoroughly on the ground for a day or two.  Let them dry completely for 2-3 weeks in a protected place, and when they're completely dry, store in a cool, dry place.  Onions can keep for about 4 months to one year!

Garlic (15 to 18 weeks to harvest)

Garlic requires the same conditions as onions.  We have garlic cloves available in the store, plant as early as possible in the spring, each clove 1/2" to 1" deep, 3"-5" apart in rows 18" to 30" apart.

Garlic will be small and irregularly shaped if soil is dry and compacted.  The larger the clove, the larger the bulb will be at harvest time.

Harvest and dry the same as onions. 


Questions?  Come on in to the store and we'll help you pick the best variety for your yard.